Besides being absolutely delicious, jalapeños (and other hot peppers) can actually be a really healthy eating habit. Many of these jalapeño health benefits center around their overall level of capsaicin – and therefore their overall heat – found in these and other chilies.
Capsaicin is the substance responsible for creating a wide variety of heat levels of chili peppers. As far as peppers go, many people know jalapeños to be fairly mild. But don’t worry too much about the actual Scoville heat levels; you can reap ample health benefits with even the mildest chili peppers. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and antioxidants, too, which provide some serious health benefits.
Pain-killing properties of jalapeño peppers
The ingestion or even external application of capsaicin has been shown to cause an endorphin response, which can help block pain receptors in humans. This can be extremely beneficial to those who suffer from bothersome conditions such as arthritis, headaches, or even neuropathic pain.
Research suggests the key to this particular phenomenon actually is mostly in the heat. For pain relief, hotter peppers can make a difference in terms of actual, immediate impact. “The endorphins work to block the heat. The body produces them in response to the heat, which it senses as pain,” explains Paul Bosland, co-founder and director of New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute. (ABC News) Think of this like a runner’s high – your body goes into overdrive when fighting the irritant it thinks is in its system, lessening your overall sense of pain.
A spicy weight loss alternative
The capsaicin found in chilies is very popular in many diet pill formulas, and there’s a very good reason. It literally burns calories and fat, and the heat it creates helps you sweat out excess water weight. Eating more jalapeños is a terrific natural alternative to these pills. It can help you meet your diet goals in the tastiest way possible.
A natural nasal decongestant
Jalapeño heat has the natural ability to get even the most clogged nostrils running. Eating jalapeños (or using a capsaicin spray) increases your mucous creation, which, in turn, loosens up any nasal blockages. Though, this can be a short-lived benefit.
Jalapeños may even help prevent heart disease, heart attack, and even cancer
Studies have shown that chilies like jalapeño peppers cause reactions in the body which tend to battle these serious health conditions. The American Association of Cancer Research has seen strong evidence that capsaicin can kill certain types of cancer cells. The sweating eating jalapeños creates helps the body release fluids, which in turn helps take pressure off of your heart. And there has been evidence that chilies also block the creation of fibrin in the body, which helps lessen the chance of heart attack-inducing blood clots.
Full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Jalapeño health benefits abound for other reasons, too. Jalapeños are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. As with many types of produce, these levels can be affected by jarring, canning or cooking. In general, raw veggies pass along more of their nutritional makeup. This is not an absolute; for example, mushrooms actually increase their antioxidant levels after boiling. With peppers like jalapeños, however, raw and fresh seem to be the better choice to reap the most benefit.
Fun fact: A single jalapeño can provide a full daily dose of vitamin C. Move over, orange juice!
Additionally, jalapeños provide potassium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, flavonoids, and other essential minerals. These minerals affect things like improving digestion, improving bone density, lowering blood pressure, fighting free radicals, and calming the nervous system. And according to the National Institute on Aging, scientific research suggests that antioxidants – such as those found in chili peppers – play a key role in how cells age.
One healthy pepper
As you can see, there are plenty of great reasons to include more jalapeños in your diet for your overall health. The heat properties found in these peppers can help you tolerate pain by creating an endorphin rush similar to a “runner’s high.” It can help relieve sinus congestion from the common cold and flu. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in jalapeños can help your body fight off all sorts of chronic health problems, and the capsaicin may even help prevent some serious health conditions from forming.
That is a pretty tall order for such a small pepper, but the jalapeño fills it beautifully. Getting your daily dose of these chilies can be a ridiculously easy, tasty way to help protect yourself from the ravages of time. Plus, it’s a terrific introduction into the wide array of flavors and heat along the pepper scale, all of which provide the same amazing health benefits!